Investigator hits dead ends in leaked memo case
In an official summary, investigator Terry Sewell said he was unable to determine how a memo from City attorney Dale Patton to City Council members wound up in a private citizen’s hands.
Sewell was hired by the city in March after a memo regarding legal advice on proposing a big box ordinance, which Patton said was supposed to be confidential, was given to Maria “Bunny” Gamez. Gamez said the letter was left in her residential mailbox and she had no idea where it came from.
In his report, Sewell phoned Gamez, her Safeway co-worker Christie Stinson, Marie LaMar, Sid Moore and Council member Judy Howell. The report shows no mention of Sewell contacting other Council members of city employees.
Sewell says in the report that Patton supplied him with leads as well as the memo and details of the case to that point.
The report also shows that Sewell did not talk with Gamez. He said he contacted her but she “would not speak to me and hung up.” Gamez told the Winslow Mail that Sewell contacted her at work and that is why she wouldn’t speak to him.
“Safeway pays me to work and this was not related to my job,” she said.
Gamez also said she had talked with each Council member personally and that she felt that all but Howell had made assumptions about how she received the letter.
“They (Council) see a group of friends attacking them. It’s not,” she said.
Gamez has ties to LaMar because both are Winslow Harvey Girls. LaMar wrote a statement to the Winslow Mail, which read in part, “I told Sewell I had never seen, touched or smelled ‘The Memo.’ However, I was told in a group gathering at City Hall while Council was in Executive Session that ‘The Memo’ was not marked confidential.”
According to Sewell’s report, Stinson said she was a friend of Gamez and that she found the memo in her mailbox. Stinson told Sewell that she assumed Patton had mailed it to her.
Moore, Chairman of the Citizens for an Improved Winslow (CFIW) said he did not know Gamez and knew nothing about how she obtained the memo. He said he had seen the memo and that it was not marked confidential.
Howell told Sewell that her statement from the January 11 meeting was all she had to say about the matter. She told the Winslow Mail that she hopes the issue “is over and done with.”
Sewell returned a call by the Winslow Mail and left a message saying he would be out of town. He added he would try to answer any questions but that he may not be able to due to the legal nature of the case. Patton was not available to comment.
In his conclusion, Sewell wrote that “without a witness that has ‘inside information,’ a direct witness that observed how Gamez obtained the memo, or Gamez admitting how she obtained it, it seems unlikely that we will ever be able to determine how she came to possess it.”
Patton said Sewell’s report is public information and is available at City Hall.
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